Team USA urged to use burner phones over fears of hacking at olympics

Disposable phones for Beijing 2022 amid surveillance fears

Gino Spocchia
Monday 17 January 2022 14:42
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Food dished up robotically from the ceiling at Beijing Olympics

US athletes competing at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics could be without their ordinary cellphones after Team USA advised against doing so.

A warning was reportedly sent out to Team USA athletes in September and again in December about the risk of using an ordinary cellphone while in Beijing.

Instead, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee is encouraging its athletes to use so called “burner” phones that will be disposed of following the games.

It comes amid concerns about surveillance of athletes who are arriving in China ahead of the Winter Olympics beginning on 4 February.

As the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, Team USA athletes were warned that “every device, communication, transaction and online activity may be monitored.”

“Your device(s) may also be compromised with malicious software, which could negatively impact future use.”

Authorities in Canada, Great Britain and the Netherlands have also issued warnings about possible surveillance in China and advised the use of “burner” cellphones and laptops.

The British Olympic Association said it has “given athletes and staff practical advice so that they can make their own choice as to whether they take their personal devices to the Games, or not.”

Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant meanwhile reported that “burner” phones and laptops will be destroyed when the Netherlands returns from Beijing.

Team USA will soon be competing at Beijing 2022

Relations between western governments and China’s ruling Communist party have reached new lows with US and UK authorities blaming Beijing for human rights abuses in in Hong Kong and the country’s Xinjiang province.

Richard Moore, the head of British intelligence agency MI6, has recently described the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as his “single greatest priority”.

China has responded to countries who are refusing to send diplomatic representatives to its Winter Olympics as  “political posturing and manipulation”. That includes the US and UK.

The Independent has approached Team USA for comment.

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